The way pipeline management was done in the past is no longer going to cut it. Originally, pipelines were created using the silo system, where sales and marketing were separate. However, The Aberdeen Group proved this to be a system of the past with their 2010 study that showed a 20% annual revenue increase when organizations aligned their sales and marketing teams. With this knowledge in mind, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has worked to make sales and marketing teams much more collaborative causing the way we managed pipelines to be transformed.
Pipeline management is one of the primary factors for a successful sales plan. Having a successful sales pipeline will keep your sales and marketing teams connected, while keeping data to help your organization improve its goals year after year. The purpose of a sales pipeline is to manage and evaluate the marketing and sales metrics. These metrics can all be broken into four main categories: Marketing Leads; Sales Prospects; Opportunities; and Customers.
A marketing lead is a willing buyer that has shown interest in product and has a timeline to purchase. However these leads most often do not have all of the information the sales team will need. The factors usually missing are proper authority, a fully agreed upon budget and exact needs to be solved. In order for a marketing lead to become a prospect, the lead will have to include all of the above features. A member of the sales team will then use a prospect to create an opportunity at the appropriate time. Once there is an opportunity defined with this prospect, you should start going down the path to define your solution and present it for approval to the client. The presentation will include a quote that will fit the needs and objectives of the client. This will lead to the negotiating and closing stage, where you will finalize with closing the opportunity as won. All of these stages include metrics such as lead generation time, percent of leads that become prospects, percent of prospects that open an opportunity, average cycle time, how many deals a year, average earnings per deal.
There are two main steps used to implement pipeline management. The first one is to use data that is already available. Many organizations have this data, but do not have it organized in a defined method or process. The second step would be to lay out this process with the right team, then clearly define what criteria is required for advancement on different stages of the sales process. This pipeline will enable your organization to move a sales leader from a projection role to a role that works, manages and coaches a sales team. The use of a pipeline like that of managed through Microsoft Dynamics CRM will save time that your sales team could otherwise been used to work on the sales process, thus improving your entire sales team.